By Mumtaz Saley
It has been reported that today, more than 2.5 million Muslims will embark on the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Crowds of worshipers have already begun to gather in Mecca ahead of the days of Hajj, the focal point of the Islamic calendar.
“It is the first time I have felt something so strongly,” said a 40-year-old Indonesian man to reporters when asked about his feelings toward the pilgrimage.
According to Saudi Arabian authorities, more than 1.8 million of the anticipated 2.5 million visitors had arrived by midday on Tuesday. A sea of people clad in the customary white robes descended on the holy city and the chant of Labbaik resonated through the streets.
For the next five days, there are no barriers, whether they be national, racial or classist. For the next five days, everyone is the same.
“Islam has united us under one banner, today the CEO and the cleaner stand side by side to fulfil a once-in-a-lifetime journey,” a Ugandan mechanic told media.
A family member once told me that there’s a lesson for us all to be found within the actions of the Hajj crowds. Every step you take, you find people – strangers – helping one another. Everyone has united for a common goal. Whether you share a language or not, when one Muslim sees another in need, help is freely given. Strangers will find previously untapped wells of compassion for one another.
As my family member said, not only does this journey change your life, it will also open your eyes to the understanding that uniting the Ummah starts with you in your daily life. You and I must embody that change within us with our everyday actions.